Centum utres dolor in muro centum lagenas cervisiae.
Si quis forte inciderit utres, quam multa utres cervisie in murum?
—from an old Roman drinking tune
I left the $2.10 per hour demolition job at the Powers Hotel—soon to be the Powers Office Building—for a better paying job at the Genesee Brewery. Some would say a raise to $2.30 isn’t worth the trouble of switching a bus route. They might be right. And certainly, when you throw in the $60 initiation fee I had to pay to join the Teamsters Union and the $15.00 monthly dues it really didn’t make much sense at all.
But money isn’t everything. Maybe I had learned everything there was to learn about tearing down a wall. Maybe it was just time to move on, to expand my horizons, to learn different skills, to challenge myself. Maybe it was time to find a job that let me drink beer while I worked. Yes, I think that was it—and the other stuff, too.
I heard the brewery was looking for a forklift driver and I had done a little bit at the paper warehouse the previous summer so I went down there one day after knocking down another wall and took the forklift driving test.
This is what the forklift driving test consists of: You turn it on, level the blades and line them up with a pallet that has about 25 cases of beer on it. Then you drive the blades into the pallet, tilt them back, lift the pallet up and set it on top of another pallet of beer cases. Then you repeat the procedure with those two pallets by stacking them on top of two other pallets of beer. If you do this without dropping the pallets or hooking any other stacks or spilling any beer or breaking any bottles, you’re pretty much in.
I asked the forklift-driving test instructor when I could start and he told me I could begin immediately, explaining that the man I was replacing left for lunch and never came back. I guess I was fortunate that demolition work doesn’t require two weeks notice to leave and forklift driving doesn’t require two weeks of training to begin.
All in all, I did pretty well. I kept those cases moving, those stacks growing, and the beer flowing. It was on that very first day that I learned that the real Genesecret was not Hemlock Lake water or even the postcard portrayal of 20 men standing along the shore of Hemlock Lake peeing into it, but rather the part about “Keeping the beer flowing.”